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Home · Property Management · Latest News : Is Cancer a Disability Under Fair Housing Rules?

landlord helpWhen a Stage IV breast cancer patient lost her hair from chemotherapy treatments, she made no effort to hide it.  Yet, at the same time, she did not discuss her condition with her landlord or ask for accommodation. So, she was shocked when her leasing agent refused to renew her two-year-old apartment lease for another year, and instead insisted the woman go on a month-to-month at a higher rate.
In addition to fears over the woman’s untimely death, the leasing agent questioned whether the cancer treatments this woman received made her legally incapacitated, a claim her doctor denied.  Still, the landlord demanded the tenant either give power of attorney to her adult son, or provide a cosigner.

While cancer does not always fit neatly into the definition of a disability under the Fair Housing Act, it likely will be treated as one if the landlord perceives an applicant or tenant as a person with a disability.  In this case, the leasing office employees drew conclusions from their observations of various aspects of the tenant’s behavior over a two-year period, including actions not related to her cancer treatment.

After the woman complained to her local fair housing authority and the case was picked up in the news, and leasing agent was more amenable to a compromise.  The woman was offered a long-term lease with only the standard rent increase.  Still, she was asked to sign the lease in front of a witness who would vouch for her sanity.

See Law Protects Disabled Lease-Breaker.

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  • [email protected]

    Wow. What a nice way to forge a desirable community; by excluding people with illness. I suppose we should all rally about the jackasses managing the apartment? REALLY? Obviously, I’m being sarcastic.

    These managers are clearly serious about their fiduciary duty to the property owner who employs them. They are trying to purposefully create a liability claim that any jury would be glad to award to the cancer patient.

    This is negligence bordering on malfeasance. If I was that property owner, I’d have new management in place in a heart beat.

  • Gary Carlson

    To Brassservices

    The lease had expired. Why is it negligence? Too many people seem to want to ignore private property rights in this country. Is a landlord obligated to renew a lease? Does he/she need cause to do so?

    Reminds me of the Muslim ground zero issue. I’ve heard abslolutely nothing about who owns the property. Everybody who has absolutely no title or interest in the land seems to have an opinion about who should be “allowed” to build and what they may build. Wonder if the rest of us should tell them when it’s OK to enter into property transactions?

  • cobbgirl

    if a person is under going medical treatment they are in no condition to pack up and move. The reason for not renewing was the persons illness which could further aggravate the illness because the stress of not knowing where you will live can make you sicker.

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